The Washington Court System is comprised of District and Municipal Courts, Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
Washington District and Municipal Courts
There are 39 counties in the state of Washington, and each has its own District Court. These courts have limited jurisdiction over traffic cases, misdemeanors and lesser charges, small claims and civil claims up to $75,000. This is a trial court.
Municipal Courts are established by cities in Washington and hear traffic citation cases and misdemeanor cases.
Washington Superior Court
There are 30 Superior Courts in Washington – one in each county. These are trial courts and exercise general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over civil cases with claims over $75,000, family law, estate administration and probate, felonies and juvenile cases. Superior Courts also hear appeals from District and Municipal Courts.
Washington Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals in Washington has three divisions in Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane. This court is constitutionally bound to hear appeals from lower courts, and is required to review decisions in both civil and criminal cases.
Washington Supreme Court
Unlike the Court of Appeals, the Washington Supreme Court is petitioned for appeals from lower courts and may or may not agree to review them. The Supreme Court is located in Olympia at the Temple of Justice. This is the state's court of last resort and usually reviews decisions from the Court of Appeals, though will also hear original cases regarding an official act of government. There are nine justices serving the Supreme Court.
Washington Notable Court Cases
In State of Washington v. Jarred Ha (2016), a student was beaten by a bodybuilder after leaving an off-campus party. The defendant used his knife to stop the beating, seriously wounding the bodybuilder. Ha was then charged with assault, which can carry a sentence of up to 12 years, and was suspended from the University of Washington. The jury trial lasted two weeks and acquitted him on all charges, stating he acted in self defense. Ha was allowed to return to school and reimbursed for all of his attorney's fees.
In State v. Brian and Hollie Beston (2009), a registered sex offender from California reported a relationship with a Washington couple who appeared to be sexually abusing their 4-year-old daughter in online photos and videos they shared with him. A search warrant was obtained and evidence of child rape and sexual abuse was found on the couple's home computer. The Bestons pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child sexual abuse and were convicted and sentenced to incarceration.
State v. John Pomeroy and Rebecca Long (2008): Someone discovered a very emaciated 14-year-old girl locked in a Carnation, Washington home and called the police for help. Law enforcement removed the girl from the property and determined that the couple had been limiting her food and water for several years, causing her to be very malnourished and underdeveloped. The defendants were sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison.